Because all soft body parts, therefore also skin, usually decompose in the ground, preserved prehistoric tattoos are rare.
Only extraordinary conditions result in entire bodies being preserved.
The finds of tattooed Scythians preserved in permafrost are well known. In this case the tattoos mainly depict animals and were achieved by piercing the skin and rubbing soot into the wounds.

A further example is "Ötzi" (or Oetzi Iceman), the Neolithic ice mummy from the Hauslabjoch. His tattoos consist of groups of lines and crosses.

The obvious function of prehistoric tattoos was, of course, ornamental, but insignia of tribe and rank or medicinal purposes are also possible.

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